Student activist detained and deported from Israel
Activist and Northumbria student, Gary Spedding, deported from Israel and banned from entering the country for ten years after being branded a threat by Israeli officials.
A student detained by Israeli police and deported after attempting to enter the country has returned home.
Gary Spedding, who studies Applied Biology at Northumbria University, made a name for himself as a student activist from his time at Queen’s University Belfast. There he campaigned on LGBT rights and set up the QUB Palestinian Solidarity Society for students.
The 23-year-old was traveling to Israel to meet local politicians and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
He arrived at Ben Gurion airport in Israel on Thursday at 4pm UK time and was stopped from entering the country at passport control.
The Israeli embassy say he was denied entry because he “organised a violent protest” during his days as a student at Queen’s.
He alleges that upon producing his passport, he was stopped by security staff who then subjected him to ‘hours’ of questioning as well as three searches. He was then deported from the country and issued with a ten year ban from entering Israel.
MP Naomi Long who liased with the Foreign Office on Spedding’s behalf explained the suspected reason behind his treatment.
She said: “He was detained on the basis that his campaigning for Palestinian rights was viewed by the authorities in Israel to be a threat to stability in that he could have arranged campaigns or protests while he was in the country and I think that was largely based on work that he had done, particularly campaigns led on social media”.
Spedding stated online during the ordeal, “[the] level of intimidation is taking its toll on me and I feel quite drained from whole experience. Have been intimidated [and] threatened”. Before assuring well wishers, “I’m well, but shaken up”.
The student alleges that none of the officials provided a reason for his deportation but that he believes his treatment is due to his student activism in the UK.
He was finally deported from Israel and arrived in the UK on Saturday 11 January. Spedding arrived in London late last night where he is taking legal and human rights advice about the Israeli response.
The case has provoked concern among student activists across the UK. Fellow campaigners and students took to Twitter to offer Spedding messages of support, branding Israel’s actions ‘unbelievable’ and their implications for student activism ‘horrific’.